Monday, February 24, 2014

Researching weather averages for Sherwood, Wisconsin

As I continue planning for future growth of the garden,  I find I need to reconsider what might be "the right plant for the right place" based on my observations over the past 5 gardening seasons here in Sherwood.   Unfortunately I may have to resign myself to the possibility that a few of the plants I have lost along the way, including a Japanese Maple (a specimen I had come become fond of in our yard in Tennessee), just aren't as well-suited to my current conditions as I'd hoped.

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.  Climate change implies changes in long-term averages of daily weather.  In addition to long-term climate change, there are shorter term climate variations. This so-called climate variability can be represented by periodic or intermittent changes related to El Niño, La Niña, volcanic eruptions, or other changes in the Earth system. Climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.

While natural variability continues to play a key role in extreme weather, climate change has shifted the odds and changed the natural limits, making certain types of extreme weather more frequent and more intense. The kinds of extreme weather events that would be expected to occur more often in a warming world are indeed increasing.  While 60 years ago in the continental United States, the number of new record high temperatures recorded around the country each year was roughly equal to the number of new record low snow , the number of new record highs recorded each year is twice the number of new record lows, a signature of a warming climate.  So while this winter's unseasonably cold record winter temperatures across large regions of the US, might provide reason for some to doubt the existence of global warming, it is more likely yet another extreme weather event.  (At the same time, another case of extreme weather has been occurring in Califonia where record drought continues.)

Keeping in mind that averages are just that, an average of conditions of over a given period of years, consideration of those changing averages over the course of the year can provide gardeners with valuable information.

Wind roses are plots providing frequencies of wind direction and wind speed. A wind rose can quickly indicate the dominant wind directions and the direction of strongest wind speeds.  In general, data from the airports is of good quality and representative of the local surrounding area.

I couldn't locate wind roses for locations any closer than the Green Bay airport, 29 miles NNW of us in Sherwood.

It is indeed likely that old winter winds from the WSW have taken a toll on some plants in our yard, most notably shrub roses in the back yard last year (winter 2012/2013)  during a winter with erratic, variable insulating snow cover.

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